I have been sitting on several blogs these past weeks; most of which share thoughts, adventures, and detailed descriptions of the paradises I have discovered here in Indonesia. It’s quite overwhelming when I think about where to start when I sit down to write, there have been so many incredible moments worth capturing it would be exhausting to share them all. They are also very intimate moments that I often like keeping to myself, having the ability to unplug for the first time in my life and share memories alone.
For this reason, I have struggled posting them and have been thinking a lot about why. I find myself now sitting on white tile floor in my new room on Gili Air Island listening to the pouring rain outside… and it finally hit me. For me, this journey is not about only exploring nature’s beauty, but my own as well. I’ve been in a deeper space and thought it was time to go into the raw about what it has been like traveling alone as a woman for over six weeks and two countries now.
Before leaving San Diego, I hadn’t done anything extreme on my own in almost ten years. I was never one to even go to dinner alone, go to the movies alone or even buy myself a drink at the bar alone. I now sit at the almost halfway point of my journey and think it’s time to share some of what I have learned.
Yesterday I arrived on Gili Air, which is just off the shores of Lombok, Indonesia. I had my nearly 40 pound backpack strapped to my back and a day pack and laptop bag gripping my arm. I was shoved between two local Indonesians falling asleep and feeling the water splash in my eyes. We crossed the rocky waves in silence and made the no frills descent a few miles to Gili. I was riding the public boat for just a few bucks and getting a much more real account of travel by doing so.
When we arrived our boat pulled into the sand with water crowding the exit. I barely steadied myself with all my might as I stood to jump out of the boat with my gear into the ocean. No ones hand reached for mine, no one asked if I needed help, no one empathized with the extremely large weight I was attempting to carry with my little self. I jumped hoping for the best and climbed the rocks onto the white sand of my new island. My back ached, my entire body was sweating, I was covered in mud and realized I hadn’t the slightest clue the name of the new place I was staying at. I only knew I had to head north on the main road and turn right at the “siti,” whatever that was, and walk 100 meters from there.
Tired, hot and feeling defeated I asked around trying to figure out what way was north. No one knew, no one cared, I was on my own. Direction has never been my strong point I might add. I looked around at the dirt pathway lined in dive shops, juice bars and hippy cafes and let my stress go. Like everything else on this journey, I knew it would work out and besides what did I ever have to complain about. I had just left my last location giving away articles of my clothing and toiletries to the most gracious Indonesian women. They each drew straws anticipating with excitement which item they would pick. On the table lay coconut oil, lotion, yoga pants, two tops (one terribly needing a wash), an iPhone arm band, disinfectant wipes and an empty sunglass case. You’d think I sprawled an entire collection of designer clothing on the table with how excited they were to choose. I realized in that moment how incredibly spoiled I was and once again all that I had to be grateful for. It took everything in me to not just bring out my whole bag and give it all away. None of it mattered to me anymore, only their smiles.
Coming back to my story, after several wrong turns and showing up at multiple incorrect locations, I finally arrived where my name was on the list of those booked. Yes. Finally I was home. I might add, that home to me is no longer about a physical address, it’s about a bed, a mosquito net and usually some sort of shower that rarely is anything but lukewarm if I am lucky. But I could care less about any of that. Running water and a pillow and I’m happy.
I walked into my corner room with a tiny porch lined with tropical plants, white walls and a plain bed, and finally dropped my bag on the floor and sighed. I was tired, uninspired and just wanted to rest. Many people confide in me that they feel inspired by my journey and for that matter I felt it necessary to also share the parts of life I also go through, that are beyond the pictures of endless sunshine, picture perfect moments and smiles. This is real life with the filters and makeup off. These are the moments I crave; these are the moments I grow from. Yes, they even happen in paradise.
Since I have arrived on Gili Air Mother Earth has showered me with with her rainfall. I have been confined to my room, but not because I am scared to adventure in the rain, but because I knew I needed to step back and reflect. When you travel alone emotions come and go with the wind and at times they are intense. Much of my time has been spent in social settings, but I always book time alone not because I necessarily want it or crave amenities, but because I know I need it. This is no different here.
I picked myself up today and walked to the local café to get a crepe and try and find inspiration again. I messaged a friend I had met in Sri Lanka, who had a story that so much mirrored mine I felt it necessary to reach out and send her love. I often cringe when I hear people call my journey one about, “finding myself.” It’s not about finding yourself when you travel, it’s about peeling back the layers and rediscovering the person you were before everything in your life happened. The person you were born to be; the purest form of self.
My friend messaged back and told me through a sweet message that I inspired her today and this lit my heart on fire. Often we don’t realize the light and beauty we bring to the world until someone points it out, or sometimes when we are defeated we just need to hear it. I was grateful for her kindness. I left the café and my bit of gloominess behind me and walked in the rain with new thoughts swirling around in my head. I felt the water run down my face and hair and soak my feet as I walked through puddles in the streets back to my home stay. I watched an Indonesian man on his bicycle happily riding down the empty dirt road with his young daughter standing tall on the seat behind him and laughing together. I watched a family huddle in a tiny home built from tarps chatting the day away with someone on guitar in the background. I didn’t have anyone with me, I didn’t have distraction, I was purely in the moment observing as an outsider the joys of family. This is the greatest gift of traveling alone. Witnessing others love and sewing it onto your own sleeve to give to someone else you encounter in the future.
I’m in a space of pure observation, thinking about my future and the family I want someday. I have learned nothing I have ever felt is unique and relating to strangers every step of this journey has only made me realize how deeply we are all connected.
[I took a pause from writing and decided to do what I normally do traveling when I am looking for my next bit of inspiration, I took a walk.]
I went into a hole in the wall authentic Indonesian place that was crowded with only a seat at a shared table to sit at. I sat across from the next woman I was meant to meet on this trip. A beautiful mother with long dreadlocks, dark skin and a story worth sharing. It was yet another serendipitous moment where my energy connected so perfectly in alignment with another, through our conversations we both got emotional tears in our eyes. She gave me far too much encouragement to dive into in this ending to my blog, but the message I would like to close with is to live life with your heart always open, no matter what. What I mean by that is to break down your walls, open the flood gates and allow yourself to receive and give the endless love that you deserve.
Your heart will break, you will feel sorrow, you will be hurt but you will always be gifted back all the healing and more joy than you can ever imagine possible by doing so. You will feel depths of love that will send goosebumps down every inch of your body. Since I have chosen to live open to those around me without protective barriers, the love that has entered my life, the people I have encountered, the moments I have shared and the odd coincidences of the Universe have been magical. When you live this way, positive energy flows like waves towards you and away from you magnetically.
It is with this energy that you heal yourself and through this process you heal others. Once we take that journey within, all that is outside of us becomes even more beautiful than before. x0